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Celeb people: I once was an ugly duckling!; Hard to believe, but Born And Bred TV star Charlotte Salt was once bullied for her looks...

Byline: Sally Brockway

Watch this face! Her name is Charlotte Salt, she stars in the BBC1 series Born And Bred and if all goes according to plan, she'll become the next hot young thing in Hollywood.

For 17-year-old Charlotte, who plays Helen Gilder in Born And Bred, has just been out to Los Angeles where she was quickly signed by an agent and a manager who reckon her face will really fit in teen movies.

"I've already got an audition," she says. "They're crying out for girls aged 17-21 in Hollywood because most actresses that age are at drama school. Unusually, my career took off because I hadn't been to drama school."

Charlotte's break came when producers were looking for a raw talent to star in the 1998 BBC series In A Land Of Plenty, and cast her from her local youth theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.

With her pencil-slim figure, long hair and enviable English rose complexion, you can see why Charlotte is a casting director's dream, but she hasn't always looked this way. "I had a really bad phase," she reveals. "A few years ago, I was podgy, wore a brace and had terrible acne.

"It was a depressing time. I went to an all-girls school where you got picked on if you were a little bit different. They took the mickey out of me because I was spotty and didn't have a boyfriend. It really knocked my confidence."

So Charlotte decided to do something about it. "I started going to the gym and the weight came off quickly. I got braces, and my mum Sharon, who'd also suffered from acne, took me to the doctor where I was prescribed drugs, which I'm still taking.

"Most teenagers go through a bad phase - I'm sure even Catherine Zeta Jones had her moments. But now I'm happy with the way I look." The boys think so, too, as Charlotte has no shortage of male admirers. But she's in no hurry to get a boyfriend. "Once I finish filming the third series of Born And Bred I'm off to LA, so there's no point having a serious relationship. I'm only 17 and have all the time in the world for that.

"There was this lovely guy, but we recently split up because my job has to come first. It broke my heart and his, but it's been a lesson to me. It's shown me that I can't get wrapped up with anyone, unless I can commit myself to that person - otherwise it's not fair, on me or them."

Charlotte's ambition reared its head at an early age. As a child, she auditioned for every school play going, signed up for drama lessons and read Shakespeare. "I did everything I could to make sure I became an actress."

After starring in In A Land Of Plenty, a role in the BBC drama The Whistleblower followed. Then she was cast for Born And Bred, and next month appears in The Bill as a suicidal teenager. "I'm thrilled that I've found such good work, but it hasn't been easy.

"When I was younger, filming away from home was hard. I really missed my friends and family. It's difficult because, when you're 15, you can't go out drinking with the rest of the cast. Now it's easier. I'll be going to LA on my own and I'm not worried at all," she says.

As well as pursuing an acting career, Charlotte has also passed her GCSEs and is now studying for her A-levels. "I have no time for a social life, but there'll be plenty of time for that later."

Words that no doubt please Charlotte's landlady mum and her father Phil, who has his own engineering company. "I get on well with my parents and I don't give them that much grief. I don't drink, smoke or take drugs. I can't see the point." So not only does she have brains and beauty, she's got common sense too.

You saw it here first - Charlotte Salt is going far.

Born And Bred, BBC1, tonight, 8pm

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FAMILY FAVOURITES: Charlotte (Helen) with Born And Bred's Gilder family (left to right) - Ross Little (Michael), Polly Thompson (Catherine), Jenna Russell (Deborah) and Michael French (Tom)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Apr 27, 2003
Words:707
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